April 2002


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Monday April 1st, 2002

Better weather again. Popped up to the allotment and pulled up the last leeks in one of the rows, giving me clear space for the brassicas. Raked Growmore into the plots for cabbage and cauli, then trod it all over fairly well to firm it ready for planting. Should be 7-10 days after putting the fertiliser on. Did a pH test while I was at it - alkaline as expected, so no need to lime. The orchard weeds are dying now, but are still going to need some serious digging to get out completely.

Tuesday April 2nd

Had the idea of trying to track down a supplier of bark mulch for the orchard. Prices were ridiculous. But then got a clue off one supplier - phone tree surgeons. So I did, and found one who was pretty close by and would phone when he'd got his chipper fixed and done a tree!

Took the 1st lot of netting posts up to the allotment and hammered them in. Then walked into the middle of the orchard and looked about for a likely place to begin the clearance. Plumped for the middle, near the bramley, and got cracking. Kept going until it got to dusk. The grass is coming out easily, so are a lot of weeds but the creeping cinquefoil proved to be more of a pain with long tap roots. Dug over a fair bit as a result, and so there is my task for the next week or six. I am going to gradually work my way up the boundary and start laying mulch to stop weeds germinating as I go. Hopefully then it will all look a lot nicer. Left the cold frame open overnight, accidentally.

Wednesday April 3rd

Went straight to allot after work and had another go at the orchard weeds. There's an awful lot of creeping cinquefoil, and it's hard to spot because the leaves have shrivelled off with the weedol, leaving innocuous-looking stumps. Still, when they resprout I'll have an easier job spotting and digging out the stragglers. Maybe I'll just hit them with roundup and mulch over the top.

Thursday April 4th

Hot again. Galloped off after work and did another couple of hours of weeding, as well as watering the carrot patch and finally drilling holes in the rusty bucket so the water could drain out. It eventually ended up with a gooey sludge in the bottom with bits of tree in it. Yuk. Orchard now looking a bit better, though am getting a serious hatred of creeping cinquefoil.

Saturday April 6th

Nice but not as hot. Which was just as well as I was up to the crawling under gooseberry bushes bit at the back of the orchard. Started off by looking at the corner where the buddleia was. Help. Took a photo, then went into the attack. Three hours later I took another. Pleased. Then started on the middle section under the bushes and found the bindweed colonies from hell. The first one was wrapped round the roots of the bush. Then ran into the couch grass colonies as well. In open ground they would have been fairly easy to dig. Unfortunately couch, bindweed and gooseberry bushes are not a good combination. Especially in combination with ground which is virtually 50:50 stones and soil, so you can't actually get a trowel in. Dug out as much as I could reach by dint of sitting under the bushes. Sat on a nettle. Ow. By the time I'd worked round to where the manure heap was I thought I'd seen it all - but no, I then found the really bad bindweed clumps. *sigh* Worked round to the small apple stump and called it a day after 6 hours of battling.





Sunday April 7th

Still lovely but getting colder again. Up to the allotment about 11 and got cracking. This time I took the hand shears too, so I managed to trim some edges and a bit of the path. Looks rather tidier. Interspersed this with bindweeding. No way could I possibly have got it all but some's better than none (being careful to track all the ends) and by 4.50pm I'd cracked it. Hooray! And pruned all the roses very hard while I was at it as I kept walking into them. There is now a clear path along the back of the raspberry canes which will make things a lot easier. And  ¼ of the grass path has had a good trim. Hee. All the shallots are now growing. Emptied out some of the sludge from the waterbucket - but really need the barrow as it's heavy and stinks.

Monday April 8th

Cloudier today but gradually warmed up again. Still no sign of rain; very odd for this time of year. Went up to the A. with the punnet of Snowball A caulis and the punnet of lettuces: had fun getting the caulis in, collared and netted, but finally managed to squeeze in 18 at 20" spacing. The lettuces are in the middle as an intercrop.Had caulis to spare, so donated them to the first allotmenteer I could find. Trimmed a bit more path, mainly so I could get to the netting to peg it down. If any birds can get under there I'll be surprised (I have a twig peg every 9" or so). Home to lunch then back out again forgetting the cabbages and the carrot seeds, but still had easily enough to do. Acquired some carpet underlay for a quid (enough to do everything twice over) for the remaining brassica collars. The cabbage netting is up and ready, though a smaller area than the caulis because of the frame and bucket. Also dug up the last seven leeks with roots, and lightly dug over the ground. Raked it smooth and pegged in the fleece ready for the maincrop carrots. The fleece is pegged by the same twigs as the nets, so double bird resistant on that side now. Spent a couple of hours grass cutting with the hand shears, and now the cross path and one side of the main path are now done. Should be getting a load of woodchip mulch later in the week for the orchard. Probably enough will be left over for Dad to have loads too. I have no idea at all where I'm going to put the AtYR caulis: I suspect donations may be in order. Heeled the leeks in at home.


caulis in...

Tuesday April 9th

Not too much done today. Finally got to the allotment and planted out the 19 cabbages, having room in the bed for five of the AtYR caulis as well, so I hopefully get some of those too. Left the rest under netting in Vincent's plot. Found a better way of pegging down the netting - with the wire I'd previously used for last year's net hats! Too dry to plant anything else really.

 Friday April 12th

I spent half the afternoon watering everything in sight - then I realised I'd missed a few phonecalls - the tree surgeon had been trying to reach me and when I rang back he had got the remains of a tree for me. Shot off to the allotment armed with a rake and a bucket. Managed to fill up the water butt while waiting for him to appear, but then received a mound of chips about the same size as the manure mountain. But nowhere near as heavy or awkward. Got raking. Nearly 2 hours later my hands were aching and I had to call it a day after getting most of the stuff off the main access road and into my corner. Admittedly you should compost chippings well before use, but these are going around old apple trees and woody fruit bushes so should be fine.

Monday April 15th

Back to allotment after work and got cracking on the shovelling. After the brief shower on Saturday, the chippings had started to heat up quite well, so had to spread them out in a hurry so they didn't burn any of my bushes. After another hour or so of carting buckets about I finally had a more or less evenly mulched orchard, and hopefully the heat the chips will generate for a while will kill any seeds that are in the soil surface. It looks rather good; don't quite know how long the chips will stay gold-coloured but that doesn't matter. Took the stuff to the edge of the raspberry canes, which are a nice straight line. One of them has a new cane coming already! And there are a lot of flowers… Watered everything in sight, and remembered to dust the sulphate of potash round the fruit bushes and trees. The Snowball caulis did get rather whitened, but the AtYRs didn't (typical…) and the cabbages are looking good. The romaine lettuces are growing rapidly. Another job sorted.

Tuesday April 16th

Quite a strong frost. Froze the condensation on the inside of the cold frame. But it warmed up fast and it was really quite sunny by the time I got to the Allot. Appleblossom seems to be fine. Grass cutting today. Managed to shear from the grass path up to the top of the orchard by the time my arms gave out, so there's only a bit left to do. Lee gave me a sunflower - planted it by the forsythia and the raspberry post so it has support. Apparently it was one from a kid's packet so is no doubt huge… He also asked if he could buy some of my manure - to which I said no, he could have it, but could he please look after the allotment while I'm in the US. Grin. Solves that problem!

Things looking a lot tidier now. Photos show last year May 1st (about the same stage of growth) and now.

010501 120402

Wednesday April 17th

Went to finish the rest of the grass and with a yard to go broke the shears. Borrowed some normal hand ones off Lee and they were much easier! Finished the trimming off and then watered the caulis and this time remembered where I'd planted the lettuce seed tape…

Wednesday April 24th

Another scorcher of a day, 22oC. Up at the allotment, the caulis have lost their first proper leaves (the ones that got frost scorched) but are growing new ones. The cabbages I think have got flea beetle, as the leaves are getting nibbled in a lace pattern and round the edges. The lettuces there are doing fantastically, but then they're the Italian ones so they would in this heat… watered carrot patches, raspberries and alliums as well as the brassicas. Need rain badly. The apple trees are stunning - can hardly see the russet for blossom (above). Hopefully the fruit will benefit from the weather by having more chance of insects pollinating them. Must water them at some point. The mulch seems to be settling nicely. Left quite late, when the gibbous moon was bright through the apple trees. Beautiful.


Thursday April 25th

At allotment, drenched everything again including the raspberry cane that doesn't seem to want to grow. Refilled the butt. Noticed that I have a lot of large bindweed coming up by the chaenomeles, so must move in with the glyphosate. Ditto the small bindweeds, which are now appearing in the beds. Strimmed the paths with one completely charged battery and one half-charged, so that's encouraging.

Friday April 26th

Woke up to the best sound in the world for a veg. gardener - rain. And heavy too. Bliss.



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